Montipora spongodes are perhaps the easiest to keep species of the genus Montipora. We're often asked what corals we recommend for a beginner who is looking for a forgiving SPS coral and Montipora Spongodes is always at the top of that list. It's often confused with Montipora confusa, which is a very similar looking species despite being far more rare in the reef aquarium hobby.
Spongodes is a fast growing, branching, encrusting, and plating coral. These corals often form large colonies quickly in an sps aquarium due to their fast growth rates. We recommend you give them plenty of space as they will be aggressive towards their neighbours.
Montipora is the second most species rich genus after Acropora. Corals of this Genus come in many different growth formations and colourations. Most strains of Montipora we see in the hobby are branching, encrusting, or plating varieties. We also see some species that are a combination of the three, such as Montipora spongodes.
They have similar care requirements to Acropora, however, they tend to be more forgiving of improper husbandry. When provided with less than ideal water chemistry, flow, or lighting, Montipora tends to lose colour and recede slowly rather than undergoing RTN (Rapid Tissue Necrosis) which is more common with Acropora. This allows hobbyists the catch and fix any issues in their system before losing the coral.
Montipora should be kept in a mature reef aquarium that has stable water parameters. While we have our preferred parameters for Alkalinity, Calcium, and Magnesium, Montipora will do far better in your system if you just focus on keeping the water chemistry stable. If your Alkalinity, Calcium, or Magnesium is out of line, our recommendation is to get it back to your target levels as slowly as possible.
The parameters we aim for are:
It's important to understand that these are the levels that we aim for in our SPS system. However, that doesn't mean they are the right levels for your system. All aquariums are different and your system may naturally fall on a different balance. You're better off working with the balance your system tends towards than trying to force the same levels that we run.
In terms of flow, Montipora polyps should constantly be getting blown around in various directions. This is a good indication that you have the coral in strong randomized flow.
Good flow is also important to ensure the underside of the colony remains healthy. Often as Montipora colonies grow larger the sides that stop receiving light will lose their polyp extension and their colour. While this is inevitable to some extent, we find that stronger flow will keep the underside of the colony looking healthier and more colourful.
Montipora are light loving corals. We always recommend placing them high up on the rockwork where they will receive plenty of light. We aim to keep most of our Montipora in 200-300 PAR.
Too little light can cause Montipora to turn brown, if this happens raise the coral in your tank or increase your light intensity. This is a slow process, however, assuming it has good flow and your water chemistry is stable it will regain its colour.